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NREL Report Firms Up Land-Use Requirements of Solar, Source: NREL

July 31, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar

June 11, 2013- NREL Director Dan Arvizu,  with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles charging at the rapid charging system powered by a solar canopy at the Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility (VTIF) at NREL.  (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL) Courtesy of NREL

June 11, 2013- NREL Director Dan Arvizu with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles charging at the rapid charging system powered by a solar canopy at the Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility (VTIF) at NREL. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)
Courtesy of NREL

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report on the land use requirements of solar power plants based on actual land-use practices from existing solar facilities.

“Having real data from a majority of the solar plants in the United States will help people make proper comparisons and informed decisions,” lead author Sean Ong said. The report, “Land-use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States,”PDF was written with NREL colleagues Clinton Campbell, Robert Margolis, Paul Denholm and Garvin Heath.

Ong gathered data from 72% of the solar power plants installed or under construction in the United States. Among the findings:

  • A large fixed tilt photovoltaic (PV) plant that generates 1 gigawatt-hour per year requires, on average, 2.8 acres for the solar panels. This means that a solar power plant that provides all of the electricity for 1,000 homes would require 32 acres of land.
  • Small single-axis PV systems require on average 2.9 acres per annual gigawatt-hour – or 3.8 acres when considering all unused area that falls inside the project boundary.
  • Concentrating solar power plants require on average 2.7 acres for solar collectors and other equipment per annual gigawatt-hour; 3.5 acres for all land enclosed within the project boundary.

By the third quarter of 2012, the United States had deployed more than 2.1 gigawatts of utility-scale solar generation capacity. Another 4.6 gigawatts was under construction. There has been a long-running debate over the comparative land needs for various forms of energy, old and new. But that’s not the purpose of the new report, Ong and Denholm emphasized.

“The numbers aren’t good news or bad news,” Denholm said. “It’s just that there was not an understanding of actual land-use requirements before this work. However, we were happy to find out that many of the solar land use ranges and estimates used in the literature are very close to actual solar land use requirements that we found.”

These land-use estimates can also be compared with other energy-production land uses. For example, a study by Vasilis Fthenakis and Hung Chul Kim of Columbia University (2009) found that, on a life-cycle electricity-output basis—including direct and indirect land transformation—utility-scale PV in the U.S. Southwest requires less land than the average U.S. power plant using surface-mined coal.

A previous NREL report, “Land-use Requirements and the Per-capita Solar Footprint for Photovoltaic Generation in the United States,” had estimated that if solar energy was to meet 100% of all electricity demand in the United States, it would take up 0.6% of the total area in the United States.

This time, the data come not from estimates or calculations, but from compiling land use numbers from actual solar power plants. Every solar energy site analyzed in the study is listed in a detailed appendix.

“All these land use numbers are being thrown around, but there has been nothing concrete,” Ong said. “Now people will actually have numbers to cite when they conduct analyses and publish reports.”

NREL previously had released a report on land-use needs for wind power. Doing the same other generation resources including coal, natural gas and nuclear — estimating land use via huge sample sizes — would help inform decisions, Denholm said.

The report provides fundamental data that can be used to understand the impacts and benefits of solar. “Modelers and analysts, people looking 10 or 20 years into the future can use this report to evaluate the impacts solar energy may have,” Denholm said.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

This article is a repost, credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory,

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Phoenix Solar to build 1.8 MWp solar power plant in Saudi Arabia

July 20, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar

• Saudi Aramco extends recently completed project
• Phoenix Solar to strengthen Middle East operations

Phoenix Solar Volkswagen Plant in  Chattanooga, Tennessee From 1-23-13 press release: Biggest solar installation at a U.S. auto factory  Photo courtesy of Phoenix Solar

Phoenix Solar, Volkswagen Plant in
Chattanooga, Tennessee
From 1-23-13 press release: Biggest solar installation at a U.S. auto factory
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Solar

The KAPSARC II project is contracted by Saudi Aramco, and will extend the existing solar plant from 3.5 MWp to 5.3 MWp – also built by Phoenix Solar -, making it the largest ground mounted system in the Kingdom.  The project supports KAPSARC’s objective to achieve LEED Platinum Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The system is scheduled to become operational in the first half of 2014.

Phoenix Solar Oman and Phoenix Solar Singapore, together with local project partner Hi-Technology & Contracting Company Ltd (“Hi-Tech”), will be jointly responsible for the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the 1.8 MWp solar power plant. Upon completion the plant will cover around 2.6 hectares of desert land, and feed over 2’900 megawatt-hours a year directly into KAPSARC’s medium voltage grid.

“The Middle East is a fast growing region, with potentially high demand for solar energy in the future”, said Dr. Bernd Köhler, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Solar AG. “With this new order in hand we will strengthen the Oman office, which will operate with the support of Phoenix Solar Singapore. Both subsidiaries will combine experience and know-how to apply the best solutions to accommodate the harsh desert climate conditions of this region and to continue building high performance solar power plants.”

With an increasing market portfolio, Phoenix Solar continues its business expansion, strengthening at the same time its position as an international photovoltaic EPC company.

About Phoenix Solar

AG Phoenix Solar AG, which has its headquarters in Sulzemoos near Munich, is an international photovoltaic system integrator. The Group develops, plans, builds and operates large-scale photovoltaic plants and is a specialist wholesaler for turnkey power plants, solar modules and accessories. With subsidiaries on three continents, the company has sold solar modules with an output of significantly more than one gigawatt since its founding. The shares of Phoenix Solar AG (ISIN DE000A0BVU93) are listed on the official market (Prime Standard) of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

This article is a repost, credit: Phoenix Solar,